The effect of dose on the safety and immunogenicity of the VSV Ebola candidate vaccine: a randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 1/2 trial

Angela Huttner, Julie-Anne Dayer, Sabine Yerly, Christophe Combescure, Floriane Auderset, Jules Desmeules, Markus Eickmann, Axel Finckh, Ana Rita Goncalves, Jay W Hooper, Gürkan Kaya, Verena Krähling, Steve Kwilas, Barbara Lemaître, Alain Matthey, Peter Silvera, Stephan Becker, Patricia E Fast, Vasee Moorthy, Marie Paule Kieny, Laurent Kaiser, Claire-Anne Siegrist
Lancet Infectious Diseases 2015, 15 (10): 1156-1166

BACKGROUND: Safe and effective vaccines against Ebola could prevent or control outbreaks. The safe use of replication-competent vaccines requires a careful dose-selection process. We report the first safety and immunogenicity results in volunteers receiving 3 × 10(5) plaque-forming units (pfu) of the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-based candidate vaccine expressing the Zaire Ebola virus glycoprotein (rVSV-ZEBOV; low-dose vaccinees) compared with 59 volunteers who had received 1 ×10(7) pfu (n=35) or 5 × 10(7) pfu (n=16) of rVSV-ZEBOV (high-dose vaccinees) or placebo (n=8) before a safety-driven study hold.

METHODS: The Geneva rVSV-ZEBOV study, an investigator-initiated phase 1/2, dose-finding, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial conducted at the University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland, enrolled non-pregnant, immunocompetent, and otherwise healthy adults aged 18-65 years. Participants from the low-dose group with no plans to deploy to Ebola-aff5cted regions (non-deployable) were randomised 9:1 in a double-blind fashion using randomly permuted blocks of varying sizes to a single injection of 3 × 10(5) pfu or placebo, whereas deployable participants received single-injection 3 × 10(5) pfu open-label. Primary safety and immunogenicity outcomes were the incidence of adverse events within 14 days of vaccination and day-28 antibody titres, respectively, analysed by intention to treat. After viral oligoarthritis was observed in 11 of the first 51 vaccinees (22%) receiving 10(7) or 5 × 10(7) pfu, 56 participants were given a lower dose (3 × 10(5) pfu, n=51) or placebo (n=5) to assess the effect of dose reduction on safety and immunogenicity. This trial is ongoing with a follow-up period of 12 months; all reported results are from interim databases. This study is registered with, number NCT02287480.

FINDINGS: Between Jan 5 and Jan 26, 2015, 43 non-deployable participants received low-dose rVSV-ZEBOV (3 × 10(5) pfu) or placebo in a double-blind fashion, whereas 13 deployable participants received 3 × 10(5) pfu open-label. Altogether, in the low-dose group, 51 participants received rVSV-ZEBOV and five received placebo. No serious adverse events occurred. At 3 × 10(5) pfu, early-onset reactogenicity remained frequent (45 [88%] of 51 compared with 50 [98%] of 51 high dose and two [15%] of 13 placebo recipients), but mild. Objective fever was present in one (2%) of 51 low-dose versus 13 (25%) of 51 high-dose vaccinees receiving at least 1 ×10(7) pfu (p<0·0001). Subjective fever (p<0·0001), myalgia (p=0·036), and chills (p=0·026) were significantly reduced and their time of onset delayed, reflecting significantly lower viraemia (p<0·0001) and blood monocyte-activation patterns (p=0·0233). Although seropositivity rates remained similarly high (48 [94%] of 51), day-28 EBOV-glycoprotein-binding and neutralising antibody titres were lower in low-dose versus high-dose vaccinees (geometric mean titres 344·5 [95% CI 229·7-516·4] vs 1064·2 [757·6-1495·1]; p<0·0001; and 35·1 [24·7-50·7] vs 127·0 [86·0-187·6]; p<0·0001, respectively). Furthermore, oligoarthritis again occurred on day 10 (median; IQR 9-14) in 13 (25%) of 51 low-dose vaccinees, with maculopapular, vesicular dermatitis, or both in seven (54%) of 13; arthritis was associated with increasing age in low-dose but not high-dose vaccinees. Two vaccinees presented with purpura of the lower legs; histological findings indicated cutaneous vasculitis. The presence of rVSV in synovial fluid and skin lesions confirmed causality.

INTERPRETATION: Reducing the dose of rVSV-ZEBOV improved its early tolerability but lowered antibody responses and did not prevent vaccine-induced arthritis, dermatitis, or vasculitis. Like its efficacy, the safety of rVSV-ZEBOV requires further definition in the target populations of Africa.

FUNDING: Wellcome Trust through WHO.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"